LEGO Education is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and we are exploring the history of this unique division of the LEGO Group. Part 1 presented an early history of LEGO Education, while Part 2 outlined the development of the first LEGO robotics platforms. In our 3rd and final installment, we dive into the story behind the game-changing release of LEGO Mindstorms.
LEGO and Amazon are launching a new “Mindstorms Voice Challenge: Powered by Alexa” for developers and LEGO robotics fans with some serious prizes up for grabs. The challenge is to envision and create new ways that voice controls can work with LEGO.
More than $100,000 worth of prizes are available, with the grand prize winner receiving $20,000 in Amazon gift cards, tons of LEGO sets, and a trip to LEGO Headquarters in Denmark. You can get a $150 Amazon gift card just by entering.
Pinball machines bring out the kid in all of us, hanging out in an arcade losing quarters and setting high scores. And the Classic Space era of LEGO sets appeals to so many of us who got our first LEGO sets back in the 70’s through 90’s. The Brothers Brick contributor Bre Burns hits it out of the nostalgia ballpark with a fully functional LEGO pinball machine called “Benny’s Spaceship Adventure.” She spent several months perfecting the design with over 15,000 LEGO bricks, including LEGO Mindstorms NXT programmable bricks to make sounds and count your high score.
Bre has kindly shared loads of details about her LEGO masterpiece, which stands over two and a half feet tall, exclusively with The Brothers Brick. Let’s pull back that ball launcher, flick those flippers, and learn more about this amazing LEGO creation!
But first, let’s take a look at the pinball machine in action as Bre shares its working features and tells us a little bit about the design process in our latest TBB video.
Just take my money already! Combining three of my favorite things, Alexis Dos Santos has raised the bar on mind-blowing creations with this Star Wars Racer game, made out of LEGO and powered by MINDSTORMS.
The game itself is a three-dimensional, brick-built version of the pod-racing scene from Star Wars Episode I. The player controls Anakin’s podracer between obstacles coming at it while the MINDSTORMS Intelligent Brick provides the logic and sound effects for the game.
As the caution on the game warns, “HIGHLY ADDICTIVE GAME, THANKFULLY IT’S FREE TODAY!” But where do I
buy get it … ?
It’s quite rare to see a fully functioning roller coaster, especially one this large and complex and using 100% off-the-shelf LEGO elements. It does a look a little fragile at times, with the whole structure wobbling away in the high speed turns, but I’m pretty sure builder Hoezer2 has got it all figured out and it’s gonna hold up. The construction not only has the look and feel of a real roller coaster, but the turns and runs actually have a top speed of 10.3 kmh (6.4 mph) thanks to the use of Mindstorms EV3 motors and sensors.
I still can’t quite grasp how those carriages stay fixed to the tracks, which has always been my number one fear of roller coasters. But in the world of LEGO, minifigures don’t feel pain so it’s all good if they have to endure the occasional derailment.
Earlier this week we brought you the news about the newly unveiled LEGO Boost robotics system, an entry-level System-based building and coding toolkit designed to make it easier for kids to get into programming and robotics. We also think LEGO Boost has the potential to bring the more complex creations of adult LEGO builders to life, so we’ve been curious to learn more. I’m in Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), so I was able to swing by the LEGO booth to talk tech with LEGO Boost engineers and designers.
That’s me on the left, with Lasse Lauesen, the lead computer engineer on the Boost project. LEGO Boost is being designed and developed by the same team behind LEGO Mindstorms, with collaboration from Playthemes designers like lead designer Simon Kent and well-known fan builder turned LEGO designer Carl Merriam.
What struck me first about all the LEGO Boost models on the tables at CES was the color scheme. The primary color scheme of dark azure (the same color as the gorgeous 10252 Volkswagen Beetle) contrasts beautifully with the orange and white, with plenty of bricks also in black and greys. Designer Simon Kent told me that the team chose these colors very consciously as a gender-neutral palette. And I agree — it’s a fairly strong departure from the aggressive black, red, and white of Mindstorms EV3, without swinging the pendulum all the way toward “baby” colors.
This week at the CES technology convention in Las Vegas, LEGO unveiled Boost, an entry-level building and coding toolkit to help bring your creations to life. More simple than Mindstorms, LEGO Boost (17101) is like its little brother but cooler and easier to get to know. The Brothers Brick is at CES and we’ll bring you hands-on coverage soon, but in the meantime, here are the basics.
There are only a few days left until Christmas, so anything that saves you time is a good thing. Thankfully, 14-year-old Sanjay Seshan and his 12-year-old brother Arvind built the Holiday Card Plott3r to help in all your Christmas card needs.
Built and powered by LEGO Mindstorms, the plotter can churn out cards decorated with trees, snowflakes and even Santa’s signature. The creation prints the designs using a dot-matrix and even includes a second contraption that slides out an envelope ready for your beautiful, new card.
Better yet, the project files are all online to be used or improved. That is really in the Christmas spirit! Now we just need a machine that licks and applies stamps and drops the cards off at the post office.
You’d be mistaken for not hearing of WeDo, LEGO’s education-focused robotics kits, that is basically MINDSTORMS for a younger audience. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, LEGO recently showed off its new line of WeDo 2.0 kits that can already be purchased on their US store, with the core kit costing $159.95. If you’re outside that store’s coverage area, you’ll probably need to track down the LEGO Education reseller in your country if you want to get your hands on a kit.
Other interesting news to come out of this announcement is that the WeDo programming app (which is already available on PC, Mac, iOS and Android) is coming to Chromebook in the second half of 2016.
Tired of decorating your Christmas cookies by hand? Jason Allemann of JK Brickworks is back to prove that any problem can be solved with LEGO. Jason has built this super cool LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robot to decorate cookies at the push of a button, and he’s even included instructions on how to build one yourself. Watch the video below to see it in action.
The latest iteration of LEGO robotics sets, the MINDSTORMS EV3, just got an upgrade in the form of a new app. The EV3 Programmer app brings the ability to fully program your creations from a tablet or mobile phone.
If you have any experiance with programming, this probably sounds like a nightmare , but it’s not that bad. The official programming for MINDSTORMS uses logic blocks that are dragged and dropped to create a working piece of code, with little to no input from a keyboard needed.
Get the app:
Danny Benedettelli builds robots using Mindstorms, and has been doing it for quite some time. He contributed models for EV3, when that was released, including this playable electric guitar. Today, we’re focusing on his robot Cyclops.
Now, granted, it looks like Cyclops has been around for a while, but it’s new to us, and I’ll hazard a guess it’s new for a lot of you, too.
Let’s introduce you to Cyclops:
And how Cyclops is able to move:
Since you can’t have a robot revolution without improving on previous designs, Danny also brings us Cyclops mk III: